One of our largest tourist attractions is about to get regulated.
And it’s about time.
New Sandbar/Stingray City regulations have been outlined. They will, in part, ban lifting stingrays from the water and designate the fish as a protected species.
The new regs will also limit the feeding of stingrays by humans – both tourists and locals.
We don’t know what effects our feeding of the rays is having on our water habited friends.
We do know, through research, that the rays seem to be changing in terms of their fatty acid composition because of an exclusively squid diet.
There’s also the concern of inbreeding and genetics.
The new regulations are an amendment to the Marine Conservation Law that would enable the creation of Wildlife Interaction Zones. The next step is a White Paper to Legislative Assembly and the passage in Cabinet.
We hope the amendment makes it through and becomes a part of the law.
We have, over the past few years, heard complaints of overcrowding at the Sandbar and Stingray City, especially since the number of cruise ship visitors has increased.
There have also been negative comments from guests and concern for the environment from watersports operators.
The zones will limit the number of people that interact with the rays and commercial activity will be limited past certain times of the day to make it easier for residents to play with the rays.
Taking care of our stingrays is so important, and not just for the tourists.
The rays are part of the ecology of the Cayman Islands and we have trained them to be friendly with humans.
It is time now to take care of them for future generations of Caymanians and visitors.
The news that we’re going to make a concerted effort to protect our rays comes at a time when we learned that 43 stingrays have been mutilated and killed in Australia; believed to be in retaliation for the death of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin last week when a stingray’s barb went through his heart.
That ray, just like the ones in the Cayman Islands would do if attacked, was protecting itself.
That’s what stingrays do.
They are docile creatures, as is evidenced by the fact that we’re able to play with the ones at Stingray City and the Sandbar.
They’ve become our pets. Now it’s time tomake sure they’re protected.